4MR Park Educational Sign Design Challenge

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Goal: To organize a design challenge, partnering students with mentors, to design the next generation of interpretive signs in Four Mile Run Park in order to upgrade and replace the dilipidated, dated or missing signs along the restored Four Mile Run Stream and Wildlife Preserve. 

Background:

Over the last few years, a group of community volunteers has formed to perform various improvement projects in and around Four Mile Run Park, including: the Four Mile Run Farmers & Artisans Market, design for the Four Mile Run Park Expansion, renovations of the newly acquired former electrical substation that is now Commonwealth Park (3550 Commonwealth Avenue) and a large tree planting to complement the work of the Four Mile Run Restoration Plan and the new Four Mile Run Park Plan. Last fall, 3 dozen more trees were planted from funds raised by community donations and the prior Green Ideas Challenge. All of these activities have been documented in our community generated blog: The Arlandrian (www.arlandria.org).

With an eye toward formalizing this group into a permanent non-profit "Friends of Four Mile Run Park" (formal name to be determined), we propose utilizing these funds to kick-start a design challenge to help replace the dilapidate, dated or missing environmental education interpretive signs along the restored Four Mile Run Stream and Wildlife Preserve. We plan to help students partner with design mentors to create the new signage. 

The Four Mile Run Farmers & Artisan Market has already committed $1000 raised from market operation to match with additional donations. MOM's Organic Market has also agreed to contribute $2000 more. This grant would provide more funds to match those donated dollars. The need and desire to replace and repair the environmental education signs has already been identified in the planning for the Four Mile Run Park Master Plan and Four Mile Run Restoration Project. The design challenge is being timed to coincide with the restoration work in the stream and wetlands in Four Mile Run Park which is having a formal kick-off in May. 

We intend to solicit funds through gofundme.com or through the City of Alexandria's Living Landscape Fund with which we have previously worked to solicit community funds dedicated to specific purposes in Four Mile Run Park (the 4MR Stage at 4109 Mt Vernon Avenue was built using an anonymous donation of $10,000 that was then used as matching funds for an arts grant).

We think that giving the community a chance to match donations to an established fund for a specific purpose is the best way to make a real impact on revitalizing the park. As with past efforts, school kids will be encouraged to take an active part in fund-raising. All entries would be submitted electronically to form the basis of a park website and virtual educational tour. Completed designs could be rotated out and be put on semi-permanent display in the Four Mile Run Conservancy Center.

The idea for this project is largely scalable. The amount of planning for the design challenge that is eventually done can be adjusted accourding to how much money is raised. 

The kick-off requires approximately:

An estimated $100 for each entry to cover materials and supplies.
$500 for a community kick-off meeting, an interim progress meeting and a final design competition unveiling. 
$100 for promotion of the competition.

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